Friday 21 January 2011

Martin Amis wants the old to be killed for the sake of the young

Martin Amis, the British novelist, has continued the celebrity-driven campaign for assisted suicide in a broadcast on Channel Four on Tuesday evening. Prior to the broadcast, Mr Amis was reported as saying that assisted suicide is:
"an evolutionary inevitability. We are living too long. It's not viable. I can't think of any reason to stay alive once the mind goes. It is an existential nightmare that you can't get out of life. Medical science got us into this and medical science will have to get us out. Of course, there are legal difficulties, but people are ahead of the Government on this. It is a residue of Christian feeling – this idea of the sanctity of life – that is holding things back, but we have to get rid of this primitive feeling."
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, gave me his reaction to Mr Amis's reported comments:
“Mr Amis’ idea of evolution is bizarrely contradictory. He says that euthanasia is ‘an evolutionary inevitability’ because human beings ‘are living too long’. He blames ‘medical science’ for what he regards as an unviable excess of longevity. Yet many of his fellow atheists would regard the recent advances in medical science as evidence that the human race is evolving into a higher state of understanding, beyond the Christian sanctity-of-life idea which Amis dismisses as a 'primitive feeling'. Mr Amis should also revise his understanding of history. Societies which lack or reject the Christian sanctity-of-life idea descend frequently into primitive atavism. The logical conclusion of Mr Amis’ comment that he 'can't think of any reason to stay alive once the mind goes' is approval of the murder of the mentally incapable, such as under the Nazi euthanasia programme.”
As I noted last January (after Mr Amis proposed the establishment of death booths), when opposition by the Catholic Church put a halt to the adult euthanasia programme within Nazi Germany, the technology was sent to Eastern Europe for use in the Jewish extermination programme. This included mobile gas vans and then the infamous gas chambers

In last night's broadcast, Mr Amis said:
"I imagined that, in the future, there would be something like a civil war between the young and the old."
Mr Amis is partly right. As the Pontifical Council for the Family said in 1994:
"One of the more serious consequences of the ageing of the population is the risk of damage to solidarity between generations. This could lead to real struggles between the generations for a share in economic resources. Perhaps discussions about euthanasia are not extraneous to these conflicting trends."
The "ageing of the population" means not simply an increase in the total number of people living past working age. Before the mid-20th century, most countries had a significantly larger number of people under 16 than over 60. Since the mid-20th century, all developed countries and an increasing number of developing countries have been gradually inverting that population pyramid. That inversion is not only or even primarily due to increased longevity, but to fertility rates in the West having been below replacement level for decades, which in turn is mainly the result of contraception and abortion. Mr Amis wants to hand victory in the civil war to the young by promoting the death of the old. Thus we can see how contraception, abortion and euthanasia really do form a culture of death, where people turn in on each other. How different from the culture of life, centred on the family, where both young and old are welcomed, cherished and protected.

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